(The Hill) – Former Attorney General Bill Barr said Sunday that investigators probing the potential mishandling of classified documents by former President Donald Trump likely have “very good evidence” that Trump attempted to keep authorities from obtaining the materials after he left the White House.
The case against Trump, Barr said, comes down to the matter of how long it took the government to get the materials back, which will play a significant role.
“He had no claim to those documents, especially the classified documents. They belonged to the government. And so, I think he was jerking the government around. And they subpoenaed it. And they tried to jawbone him into delivering documents,” Barr said.
“But the government is investigating the extent to which games were played and there was obstruction in keeping documents from them. And I think that’s a serious potential case. I think they probably have some very good evidence there.”
Barr reiterated Sunday that of all the legal woes facing Trump, the classified documents probe was the one to “be most concerned about.”
Barr said he believed that before classified documents were discovered at the homes of President Joe Biden and former Vice President Mike Pence that Trump was likely to be indicted in that matter.
“And I still think there’s a very good chance of that because — and I think it depends on how sensitive the documents were, but also what evidence they have of obstruction and games-playing by the president and the — and whether he directed people to lie or gave them information that was deceitful to pass onto the government,” Barr said.
Trump’s handling of classified documents is under investigation by Special Counsel Jack Smith. The probe opened up following the August 2022 search of Trump’s Florida Mar-a-Lago resort.
In the aftermath of the search, many Republicans quickly blasted federal law enforcement officials, arguing the search was an unprecedented attack on a former president and saying it signaled the politicization of the justice system. Barr pushed back against such claims.
The investigation into the classified documents is one of two federal probes into the former president by Smith, who is also handling the investigation into Trump’s seeking to overturn the 2020 election.
Barr, who served as Trump’s attorney general from 2019 to 2020, has fallen out with the former president since leaving his administration. He argued that the Manhattan case against Trump, in which he has become the first sitting or former president to face criminal charges, is not as serious as the federal investigation into his handling of classified information.
“I think it’s an unjust case,” Barr said. “That’s not to say that every legal challenge that the president faces is unjustified.”